Since configuring and taking delivery of our long term Triumph Bonneville SE, the blue and white British bike has enjoyed a steady stream of usage, despite a garage full of two-wheeled distractions; during this timeframe, the Bonneville has accumulated nearly 700 miles on the clock.
So far, the Bonnie has shared garage space with similarly retro-themed loaner bikes including the Suzuki TU250X and the Moto Guzzi V7 Café Classic, among others. Alternating has illuminated a few merits to the Bonneville's riding dynamic. For starters, the Bonnie's slick feel is testimony to the incremental refinements its mechanicals have undergone since the bike was introduced over 50 years ago; the smooth click of the gearshift that's positive without being notchy, the clutch that's reassuringly progressive, and power delivery from the 865cc parallel twin that strikes an impressive balance between smooth delivery and the oh-so-subtle buzz of the Arrow pipes. The TU250X and V7 are both impressive machines, no doubt, but the Bonneville's carefully modulated road manners lend it the air of an older uncle who's just a bit more polished than most of its competitors.
That said, those 700 miles have also reinforced one area that hasn't completely gelled with this journalist's 5 foot, 11 inch height. You see, in efforts to appeal to a wider swath of buyers (particularly females and newer riders who seek shorter seat heights), the Bonneville's scooped 29.1 inch tall perch forces a bit of a compact lower leg position (as seen here in this shot of my friend Levi-- who's five feet, ten inches tall-- riding the Bonnie.) On my To Do list: find a taller and perhaps softer replacement saddle, since the Alcantara factory option ($329.99) doesn't have a gel filling, the Single saddle ($279.99) reminds me of the rather embarrassing banana seat on my first bicycle, and the King & Queen seat ($319.99) is just goofy looking, in my humble opinion. Perhaps the answer lies in the aftermarket? A quick scan of a third party Bonneville accessory website also reveals higher intensity LED idiot lights, which sure would make the turn signal, high beam, neutral indicator and oil lights more legible in sunlight. Another area that could use improvement is the fueling at lower rpms; as noted in my original review of the 2009 Bonneville, roll-on throttle maneuvers can get a bit jerky towards the bottom end of the powerband, and I would have expected the fuel injection issue to be sorted by now.
Despite the scooped seat and sometimes unsmooth throttle, the Bonneville continues to please with its surprisingly spritely performance, confidence-inspiring road presence, and agreeable personality; it's taken me across Mulholland Highway, through twisting canyon roads like Latigo and Decker, not to mention the famous Rock Store in Malibu, where it drew a few head turns and observant inspections from the bike savvy crowd.
Will the honeymoon last? Stay tuned for our next long term update to find out.
- Total miles ridden: 693
- Total miles ridden this period: 610
- Total odometer miles: 4,163
- Average fuel economy: 45.4 mpg